Summer Survival Tips and Resources for New Co Parents
- Align schedules in both households
- Plan vacations and special events ahead of time
- Take time for self-nourishment
Ah, summer. It’s finally here. Relaxing by the pool, sunbathing at the beach, road-tripping as a fam for a fun week of exploring, or whatever it is your clan likes to do … But wait: You’re divorced now. As a co-parent, you share the kids with someone else who likely has their own plans for the summer. How is this going to work? Is summer ruined?
No. With a thoughtful approach, you and the kids can have a fantastic, restful, and relaxing summer when you’re together and when you’re apart. Here are six of our favorite tips and resources to help you plan for the season.
Tip: Align summer schedules and rules for both households
For lots of kids, summer is all about playdates, slumber parties, and sleeping in. Their daily schedule will certainly be a departure from the norm, but it shouldn’t lack structure. If possible, align your summer rules and routines with your spouse’s rules and routines. Make it consistent at both homes. We’re talking about the following:
How late can they stay up? How late can they sleep in?
How many hours per day will electronics be allowed? At what time must devices be put away for the day?
Will the kids need daycare in the summer? If so, who will drop them off and pick them up? Which parent will pay the daycare provider?
How often can the kids play with friends? Every day? Every other day? How many hours should playdates last? Are there any friends who are “off-limits”?
Will the kids attend summer school, tutoring sessions, or other organized academic events? If so, are both parents on board? Who will provide transportation to and payment for these events?
What about summer camps and lessons? Will the kids continue taking piano lessons through the summer? Might they enroll in a day camp? Do they hope to go to sleepaway camp? And again, who will transport, and who will pay?
Although they may protest, kids do best when they know what to expect. Consistency at both homes helps kids feel more secure. This requires some communication and organization on your part. Use this next resource to set yourself up for success.
Resource: Hello Divorce’s Parenting Plan Worksheet
At Hello Divorce, we’ve helped hundreds of couples advance to their next life chapter, which often includes co-parenting. And we’ve noticed that a small amount of planning can set the stage for family success when parents are apart. So, first things first. If you haven’t completed our parenting plan worksheet yet, it’s a great place to start. We created this worksheet to help you think through important issues ahead of time. In an easy-to-digest, step-by-step manner, we walk you through hot topics like these:
- Selecting a custody plan: sole custody for one of you or joint custody for both of you
- Choosing a timeshare split: 50/50, 60/40, 70/30, or something else
- Deciding who handles what: healthcare decisions, extracurricular activities, college planning, and other vital issues
- Planning for vacations: where the kids will be during holiday and summer breaks
We know these decisions aren’t easy, but parents have found that by using our worksheet – which you can complete in small chunks or tackle all at once – you get clarity and, thus, peace of mind because you know exactly what to expect. *Want more resources like this? Check out our state-specific co-parenting plan worksheets here.
Tip: Plan vacations and special events ahead of time
Want to take the kids on a vacation? To a family picnic at Grandma’s house? For a day at the beach? As a co-parent who shares time with the children, planning ahead is more important than ever. As you look forward in time, think about the following:
- Your work schedule and time off
- Your spouse’s work schedule and time off
- How your time off aligns with your time with the kids
- Any plans your spouse might have for the kids this summer
- The flexibility that you can offer your ex-spouse
- Kinds of flexibility your spouse can offer you
- Special events to consider (Fourth of July, family reunions, birthday parties)
Get this information in writing as early as possible. Share it with your spouse, either in person or through one of the resources mentioned below. And, if you’re in a position to vacation as a family with your ex-spouse, consider that option as well. Some families are in a healthy place where they can do this. If so, great! If not, that’s okay, too.
Resource: Our Family Wizard website and app
Communication with your ex is inevitable when planning your kids’ summer schedule, but here’s the great news: You don’t have to talk in person. Our Family Wizard is a fantastic online resource and communication tool for several reasons: You get a concrete record of time-stamped conversations with your ex.
The app helps both of you keep conversations civil with its trademarked ToneMeter metric. The two of you can send and receive electronic payments through OFWpay, which is kind of like PayPal or Venmo for co-parents.
All of these features add up to a less-stressful timeshare and vacation-planning experience. You can get what you want – precious time in the sun with your kids – while avoiding stressful face-to-face interactions with your ex.
Resource: Monitored communication through Civil Communicator
If you think you need more stringent help keeping it civil with your ex, consider a monitored communication service like Civil Communicator. The ultimate goal of monitored communication is to maintain boundaries and civility between you and your ex.
Think of it this way: Are you more or less likely to say terrible things to your ex in front of someone else? Is your ex more or less likely to say terrible things to you in front of someone else? Here’s what we like about this app: Each statement you make through Civil Communicator is reviewed by trained specialists before it’s sent. Anything considered “aggressive,” “inappropriate,” or “harassing” is redacted to keep communication on point.
Subscribers have access to a shared calendar and library of important kid-related documents, and the app tracks expenses and generates expense reports so you can keep the finances fair.
Planning summer fun with the kids shouldn’t be stressful. If either of you struggles to keep your temper in check, consider monitored communication.
Tip: Take time for self-nourishment
Parenting can be tough whether you’re divorced or not. Regardless of your family situation, one thing is certain: You deserve a break this summer, too. We encourage you to savor the moments you have to yourself this summer, however fleeting they may be. Use these moments to reconnect with yourself, meditate with the help of a nurturing program like HeadSpace, spend time alone in the beauty of nature… or whatever rejuvenates you.
Do you remember loving summer break when you were a kid? Well, now that you’re an adult – a separated or divorced parent, at that – we think you deserve some R&R more than ever.